Moonlight on the Potomac
Prompt: Six Feet Under - "Hold My Hand"
JJ stood in the open doorway to David Rossi's office and watched his bent dark head as he studiously made notes in one of the many files littering his desk. Shaking her head, she wondered if he'd even stopped to eat since they'd returned to the Federal Building. Glancing at her wrist watch, she saw that it was already past nine. Debating the wisdom of interrupting him, she finally told herself that she was doing it for his own good. Ever since Foyet's attack on Hotch, the man had been pulling triple time trying to help everyone. From running interference with Strauss to allaying Emily and Derek's concerns about their unit chief, she knew he was juggling many, many balls. Lightly tapping the wooden door, she waited as he quickly raised his head, glancing toward his entryway.
"JJ! What are you still doin' here?" Dave asked, surprised to see her framed in his doorway. "Did we catch another case this quickly?"
Smiling softly, JJ slowly shook her head, taking a step inside his inner sanctum. "Nothing like that. It's Will's night with Henry so I figured I'd catch up on some paperwork."
"Huh?" Dave grunted, confused. "What do you mean "Will's night"?"
Uncomfortable now, JJ shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. Damn! Slip of her tongue! "I…uh…that is, we…Will and I aren't together anymore. Amiable separation."
Staring back at her in shock, Dave shook his head. "Ah, hell, JJ, I'm sorry. You were the one I thought I DIDN'T need to be worried about."
"You don't. I'm fine…after Hotch, I did some thinking. Decided life was too short to be with someone that I was merely comfortable with. Will felt the same way. So, we split," she shrugged. "In fact, I'm more worried about you right now."
"Me?" Dave repeated. "I'm fine, JJ," Dave said, lowering his eyes back to the file on the desk.
"You're full of shit," JJ replied pleasantly. "Get up, Rossi. We're going for a walk."
Thirty minutes later, Dave walked silently beside the petite blonde as they entered Potomac Park. "You know, I've got an assload of files just sitting on my desk demanding my attention," he grumbled.
"And I've got a mountain of paperwork just screaming for my devoted attentions," JJ shrugged. "You still need to do this with me. You're wound too tight. Eventually you'll explode, Rossi."
Unwilling to argue, mostly because she was right, he continued walking beside the diminutive beauty, following her deeper into the park. "I hope you don't come here alone after dark," he rumbled for lack of anything better to say.
Casting him a look of annoyance, she asked, "Have I ever given you a reason to think I'm stupid?"
"No," he replied quietly. "I just don't want anybody else taking any unnecessary risks. I think we've all done enough of that lately."
"And yet, you defended Hotch this afternoon," JJ said softly.
"He's still our leader, JJ. He's earned the right to make the tough calls," Dave said uneasily, drawing JJ closer as a jogger ran past.
"You're right," JJ conceded. "But we both know Derek had a valid point. You'd have never allowed one of us to make that call."
"Perhaps," Dave murmured. Seeing JJ shiver involuntarily in the crisp fall air, he shucked his suit coat as they walked, dropping it over her shoulders.
"Thanks," she murmured, relieved to feel the warm fabric against her skin.
"I told you this was a bad idea," Dave muttered. "You're cold."
"Would you just try and let yourself relax for a few minutes," JJ chastised gently. Pointing to her right, JJ said softly, "Look how the moonlight bounces off the water. It's beautiful."
"Aw, hell, JJ. Honey, if you're trying to get me into that self meditation crap…"
"I'm trying to get you to think about something besides how worried you are about everybody else," JJ told him honestly.
Walking a few more steps in complete silence, Dave finally admitted, his voice deep and sorrowful "I can't help it. JJ, I think we're all slowly falling apart."
"No," JJ said, shaking her head, "we're not. Mostly because of you."
"I don't want to lead, JJ. That isn't why I came back," Dave growled under his breath. "I didn't sign on for that."
"I know," she said quietly, her voice soothing. "But, you're a natural leader. It only stood to reason that the team would look to you to guide us."
"I'm standing by my earlier statement. The team is beginning to crack," Dave replied.
Tugging him by his sleeve toward a park bench, JJ said, "We're gonna sit for a few minutes and watch the water and the stars. Do yourself a favor and try to feel insignificant for a few minutes."
Rolling his eyes, Dave allowed her to pull him down beside her. Dropping an arm across the back of the bench, Dave lifted his eyes toward the heavens. Sitting mutely for a few moments, he finally murmured, "I'll give you this, it is pretty."
"Yeah," JJ breathed, staring up at the dark sky. Chancing a look up into Dave's dark face, JJ sighed. Dropping her hand, palm up, against his leg, she ordered, "Hold my hand and talk."
"Excuse me?" Dave asked, dropping his eyes back to hers.
"You heard me, Rossi. You need to purge and you know I'm a sealed vault. Hold my hand and talk," she said, repeating her earlier words.
Blowing out a deep breath, Dave slowly twined her fingers with his. "I don't even know where to start."
"Pick a team member and start talking," JJ counseled.
"Okay, we'll go from least to most worried, how bout that?" Dave asked bitterly.
"Whatever works for you, Dave," JJ said steadily, squeezing his hand.
"Well, let's start with Garcia. The poor woman is as frazzled as I've ever seen anybody. Derek said Hotch made her cry today. Garcia!! Crying! Do you know how hard things have to be to make the eternal optimist cry, JJ?"
"Garcia loves Hotch like a father, Dave. Seeing him in pain and knowing that there's nothing she can do to fix it is hard. She's adjusting to this person that he's become," JJ confided quietly.
"And Reid! The kid got SHOT, JJ," Dave growled. "He got shot and he won't take anything stronger than a damn Tylenol for the pain!"
"He can't, Dave. He's recovering. You know that. Spence will be fine, Dave. One thing I've learned is that our resident genius is nothing if not resilient."
"I know that! Doesn't mean I like seeing a good kid in pain," Dave grumbled. "And then there's Derek. JJ, I know he's right. At least, the agent in me knows that he's right. But the friend in me says we back Hotch up! I mean, he's had everything stolen from him, Goddamn it! I will not be the one that takes his ability to lead his team from him," Dave raged.
"You shouldn't have to…but, you can't keep stopping Derek from doing it. You know, just like I do, that we have to be able to rely on each other in the field. Hotch made a hell of a risky decision today. Derek has the right to question it," JJ said, quietly defending the other agent. "Dave, he loves Hotch like a brother…he isn't trying to step on his toes. He wants to protect him, too."
Nodding, Dave swallowed, his fingers instinctively tightening on JJ's. "I know," he replied softly. "And then there's Emily, JJ." Lifting his eyes to meet the clear blue gaze of the woman beside him, Dave stated quietly, "That whole situation is a ticking time bomb. God knows, I don't begrudge Emily or Hotch a chance at happiness. But, we both know he isn't thinking clearly. She could get hurt there so easily. And you know I don't mean physically."
Nodding, JJ's eyes softened. "Emotionally, he could wreck her. But you can't control the decisions either one of them make, Dave. All we can do is try and manage the fallout if there is any. I've talked to Em. Her feelings for the Boss aren't new. And neither are his for her. There's hope there."
"I wish I could believe that," Dave sighed. "But this changed Hotch. And honestly, JJ, I don't KNOW if we can catch this guy. I talk a good game, but shit….he's off the fucking grid."
"We'll get a break, Dave. Eventually, we WILL get a break," JJ stressed, unconsciously moving closer to the man beside her. "But you AREN'T single-handedly responsible for maintaining Hotch's sanity. If you try, you'll only lose your own."
"This could break him, JJ. Irrevocable, irreparable damage, honey."
"NONE of us are gonna let that happen," JJ promised.
"And evidently, now I have you to be concerned about," Dave whispered, squeezing her hand gently.
"Dave," JJ said with a soft smile, "I'm fine. Henry is fine. Will and I split over four weeks ago. Trust me, you don't have anything there to worry about."
"You telling me the truth?" he asked, staring down at her.
"I don't lie to you. Ever," she said solemnly. "Besides, you'd know."
"There is that," Dave said, grinning slightly. "Does anybody else know?"
"Garcia," JJ replied. "It's just never come up…and we've been sort of busy," JJ laughed.
"I guess we have," Dave agreed.
Glancing up at him, JJ shook her head. "While you've been doing all this worrying about everybody else, who's been worrying about you?" JJ asked quietly.
"I don't need anybody to worry about me," Dave grunted.
"Too bad," JJ murmured, tightening her grip on his hand. "You've got somebody now."
"JJ, honey, you've got too much all ready to-"
"Dave," JJ replied, settling against his side and resting her head on his shoulder as her hand held his, "shut up and look at the moonlight on the Potomac."